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Giovanni GABRIELI (c. 1554/6-1612)
Complete Keyboard Music
Roberto Loreggian (organ and harpsichord)
rec. 2016, Duomo di Valvasone, Pordenone, Italy (organ), and Abbazia di Santa Maria delle Carceri d’Este Padua, Italy (harpsichord)
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95345 [3 CDs: 190:55]

This set is a real bargain, and not just because of its budget price; with over three hours of music as well as expert research and booklet notes all carried out under the auspices of Roberto Loreggian, it is difficult to see this collection being bettered. The set presents all of Giovanni Gabrieli’s published keyboard pieces, the majority of which will probably be new to most, as they certainly are to me, with most being little gems.

Giovanni Gabrieli lived in the shadow of his uncle Andrea and flourished during the flowering of Venetian music in the second half of the sixteenth century. His renown rests on his Sacrae Symphoniae, ceremonial music and his canzonas and sonatas for brass which have proved consistently popular. His keyboard music on the other hand has fared less well, though there have been a number of recordings that feature it, but it was only when I reviewed the Brilliant Classics box set 500 Years of Organ Music (95310), which is mainly for two organs, that I came to take greater notice of this wonderful music.  

Disc one is dedicated to organ music with too many pieces of note to highlight them all. The opening Toccata primi toni sets the high standard towards which all the following pieces strive – and achieve. The Ricercar or the Intonazione del secondo tono for example both show Gabrieli’s total mastery of the organ.   The second disc presents a selection of his harpsichord pieces, and as with the first CD, the opening track, another toccata, sets the level at which the following pieces aim. As with the organ disc, there are some very fine examples of the art of sixteenth century harpsichord writing here and some exceptional pieces too.  

The third and final disc is divided between the two instruments and could, in itself, provide an ideal introduction to Gabrieli’s art. The first seven tracks are performed on the organ with the opening Jubilate deo omnis terra and the final Sancta et immaculata virginitas proving ideal examples to show how accomplished a composer of organ music Giovanni Gabrieli was. The remaining thirteen titles are given over to the remainder of the harpsichord music, containing some of the best pieces, with Ego dixi: Domine miserere mei and Exultavit cor meum being very fine examples of this.

The instruments are discussed in the wonderful and informative booklet, something I hope Brilliant take to heart for future releases, especially as in the past it has been the booklet that has sometimes let the recording down, but not here. The V. Colombi organ of the Duomo di Valvasone is the only surviving Venetian instrument from the period and proves a wonderful organ for this music to be performed on; recently restored it is in full voice and has a lovely tone. The harpsichord employed for these recordings is an anonymous seventeenth century Italian instrument which, whilst it lacks the sonority of contemporary French and Belgian instruments, has a pleasing tone and a quiet action, proving an ideal instrument for these pieces.

As already intimated the research carried out by Roberto Loreggian in preparation for his booklet notes is excellent, this being bettered only by his performances; his playing is nuanced and full of character,r making it a real pleasure to listen to these three discs, especially with the fine recorded sound.

Stuart Sillitoe

Disc 1
1 Toccata primi toni, C.D10
2 Intonazione del ottavo tono, C.246 – Ricercar ottavo tono, C.215
3 Canzon francese, C.232
4 Intonazione del terzo e quarto toni, C.242 – Fantasia quarti toni, C.227
5 Toccata, C.D11
6 Ricercar, C.223
7 Canzon III, C.188
8 Canzon, C.231
9 Toccata, C.237
10 Canzon, C.234
11 Intonazione del secondo tono, C.241 – Ricercar, C.221
12 Canzon I “la spiritata”, C.186
13 Intonazione del quinto tono, C.243 – Ricercar, C.222
14 Toccata, C.D12
15 Intonazione del primo tono, C.240 – Ricercar, C.217
16 Intonazione del duodecimo tono, C.250 – Canzon IV, C.189
17 Intonazione del nono tono, C.247 – Ricercar, C.218
18 Toccata, C.D14
Disc 2
1 Toccata, C.238
2 Canzon II, C.187
3 Intonazione del sesto tono, C.244 – Fantasia sexti toni, C.S3
4 4 Toccata del secondo tono C.236
5 Fuga, C.228
6 Intonazione del undecimo tono, C.249 – Canzon, C.230
7 Intonazione del decimo tono, C.248 – Ricercar decimo tono, C.216
8 Canzon, C.235
9 Toccata primi toni, C.239
10 Fuga noni toni, C.S5
11 Fantasia in modo di canzon francese, C.194
12 Toccata, C.D16
13 Canzon, C.218
14 Intonazione del settimo tono, C.245 – Ricercar septimi et octavi toni, C.S4
15 Toccata quinti toni, C.S2
16 Fuga, C.229
17 Ricercar, C.219
18 Toccata, C.D13
19 Ricercar primi toni, C.251
20 Canzon, C.233
21 Ricercar, C.220
22 Ricercar, C.225
23 Toccata, C.D15
Disc 3
1 Jubilate deo omnis terra, C.16
2 Cantate domino, C.6
3 O doctor optime, C.139
4 O sacrum convivium, C.S16
5 Angelicos cives, C.S15
6 Congratulamini mihi, C.54
7 Sancta et immaculata virginitas, C.55
8 Labra amorose e care, C.90
9 Exaudi domine justitia meam, C.7
10 Domine deus meus, C.127
11 Alleluja, quando jam emersit, C.C1
12 Ego dixi: Domine miserere mei, C.2
13 Exultavit cor meum, C.53

 

 




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